LAHORE: The lives of thousands of cancer patients are at grave risk after the Mayo Hospital management has failed to ensure medicine supply to the four designated centres in the province.
Many patients staged a sit-in at Kalma Chowk on Wednesday to protest against apathy of the Punjab government.
More than 5,000 blood cancer patients enrolled at the five government hospitals of Punjab are getting medicine and the Mayo Hospital is responsible for supplying the same to the four other designated state-run health facilities. The registered patients get medicine from the Jinnah Hospital, Lahore; the Allied Hospital, Faisalabad; the Benazir Bhutto Hospital, Rawalpindi; and the Nishtar Hospital, Multan, besides the Mayo Hospital.
In 2014, then chief minister Shehbaz Sharif had launched the Punjab CML Project in collaboration with Novartis Pharma Pakistan Limited under corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiative for poor cancer patients.
An official privy to the development said that under the scheme, the company was providing medicines to the Mayo Hospital to distribute it among the registered patients at the designated hospitals of the province. He said the matter was put up many times with Mayo Hospital Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Prof Saqib Saeed to look into the suspension of the life-saving medicine to the patients.
He said some cancer patients also visited Prof Saqib’s office where they were made to wait for five hours or so. Three of them were brought on wheelchairs, he said, adding that the CEO ignored them and they returned disappointed.
The company is supposed to provide sustainable access to patients who are on oral maintenance therapy throughout their life while the patients suffering from Chronic Myeloid Leukaemia (CML) and Gastro-intestinal Stromal Tumour (GST) are the major beneficiaries of this project.
The official said the doctors had strictly advised the patients to use medicine daily as prescribed to avoid risk to their lives. He said the Mayo Hospital chief executive officer seemed indifferent to the plight of the patients as he was blaming the Punjab government for not releasing funds to the company which had halted the supply.
He said some senior admin officials and the doctors had suggested to the CEO to visit the health department and explore other options to ensure supply but he neither called any meeting nor did he make efforts to help the distressed.
The official said several cancer patients had already complained of complications while lives of many others were at grave risk due to disruption in consuming drug.
On Wednesday, scores of cancer patients gathered at the metrobus route near Kalma Chowk and protested against the Mayo Hospital CEO. They staged a sit-in there for more than two hours or so in scorching heat but no one from the health department came there to hold negotiation with them.
The cancer patients appealed to Chief Minister Hamza Shehbaz to take notice and action against the health authorities as well as the Mayo Hospital administration.
Prof Saqib Saeed neither attended calls nor did he respond to the text messages.
Published in Dawn, May 12th, 2022
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